In Jamaica, tensions between communities and the police regularly resulted in violence. MSI’s USAID-funded Community Empowerment and Transformation Project (COMET) worked with local communities and police for more than six years to rebuild trust and incorporate a community-based policing approach.
The approach worked, and COMET was featured as a world’s best practice by World Bank’s Crime and Violence Prevention online course.
In the spring of 2012, MSI Producer Noah Wilderman visited the project to help to capture the impact of the project in a short documentary. He found a cultural shift for change that was sweeping across Jamaica. The above video is taken from a section of the documentary on the effectiveness of scaling up the community-based policing.
Rose Town resident Earl Rose, whose child was slain in a police-related homicide, says in the documentary, “…I’m trying my best to get some justice out of injustice, because the fate that faces my son, I [don’t] want other youths to face such dilemma.”
A few years ago, Rose Town was a community where it would have been extremely dangerous for police or project staff to enter. Now through the hard work of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and community activists, supported by USAID, Rose Town is an example for other communities.
“A few years ago, we couldn’t have gone into Rose Town without a police escort, a full police escort. Now, we can drive in, in our own cars, no police escort and people have got their arms open to you and want to talk to you. There’s a will to change down there that’s unbelievable. I think that’s a reflection on the whole of Jamaican communities,” said former COMET Chief of Party, Doug McCaffery.
Jamaican communities aren’t the only ones embracing change. The Jamaican government has made significant institutional progress.
Commissioner of Police, Owen Ellington said, “We’re seeing where the force is attracting now very, very bright, capable, talented youngsters; many of whom might not have come if they didn’t see us making this kind of visible effort.”
With over 9,000 Jamaican police officers trained during the project, the community-based policing model has reached more than 700 communities.